Japanese Police Visit the Texas Rangers

By Clinton Drake, Reference Librarian

Blue-gloved hand holding a black and white photo of two Japanese men outdoors wearing suits. One man is standing and one man sits on a horse.
Texas Department of Public Safety photo of two visitors from Japan.

As we will soon open an exhibit on records related to the Texas Rangers, we are taking an in-depth look at a group of negatives and photographs in the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) photographs collection held at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) that caught our interest. A series of photos show several Japanese police workers observing law enforcement practices of the Texas Rangers, such as smashing gambling machines with hatchets and using a polygraph machine. The seemingly friendly nature of this cultural exchange so shortly after World War II, when the U.S. and Japan were avowed enemies, left us wanting to know more. The last federal internment camp located in Texas that housed Japanese Americans closed just two years before these photos were taken. Typed notations on the upper left-hand corner of two manila envelopes provide clues about the story behind the photos. The notes read as follows:

8-4×5 negatives of
Ranger Capt. Olson and Truman Stone
showing two Japanese how the Rangers
distroy [sic] gambling equipment. Also showing
tear gas gun and cartridge
March 14, 1950

1-4×5 negative of
Kinzo Kimura, Jap[anese] police
lab technician, being
shown the polygraph by
Dee Wheeler.
February 5, 1951

Image of several black and white photos, only one in full view, with the return address portion of a manilla envelope in the bottom right corner. The photo has three men surrounding a viewfinder on a desk. From left to right, Japanese man standing, another Japanese man bent down looking through viewfinder, a white man in uniform is also bent down pointing something out. In partial view, photo shows a Texas Ranger in uniform holding an ax over two gambling machines. A Japanese man in a suit stands behind the machines on the ground.
Texas Department of Public Safety photos and envelope.
a white envelope on a table with  a photo negative sitting on top at an angle. The negative image is of a Japanese man and a Texas Ranger looking at a polygraph machine.
Texas Department of Public Safety negative and envelope.
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Life in the Texas Governor’s Mansion

By Alec Head, Reference Librarian

Many Austin landmarks are associated with Texas government, but few are so distinguished or iconic as the Texas Governor’s Mansion. The mansion was designed and built by Abner Cook after a $14,500 appropriation by the Texas Legislature in 1854. From its picturesque setting overlooking Colorado Street, the mansion has been the home of every Texas governor since Governor Elisha Pease and his family arrived in 1856. Many collections at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) tell the story of this historic home and its legendary inhabitants who shaped the course of Texas history.

Governor’s Mansion, Luck Bros., about 1919. Places Collection, 1/103-80. Prints and Photographs.

Selections from TSLAC archival collections comprise the exhibit Texas Governors and Their Times, 1846-1946, on view in the TSLAC lobby through May 15. The exhibit includes photographs and records of former governors and archival artifacts from the mansion itself. The image below, from TSLAC’s prints and photograph collection, captured the view of the Governor’s Mansion and grounds as seen from the Texas Capitol in 1894.

View of the Governor’s Mansion and fenced-in grounds in 1894. Southwest from the Capitol, 1894. Art Work of Austin, 1/002-27. Prints and Photographs.

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Preservation Week: Free Webinars


For Preservation Week this year we are highlighting webinars offered for free from the American Library Association‘s CORE division. CORE sponsors Preservation Week and provides helpful resources for cultural heritage professionals and the general public. Two upcoming webinars focus on support systems available for preserving collections after crises and disasters. CORE also provides access to recordings of past webinars dealing with other aspects of preservation, such as family history, community archiving, and sustainability.

The following webinars are on offer for 2023:

There When You Need Us: Crisis Collecting Support
Tuesday, May 2, 2023 / 1:00 p.m. CT
Kara McClurken and Vanessa St.Oegger-Menn are presenting about the work of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Crisis Collecting Assistance Team and the Crisis, Disaster, and Tragedy Response Working Group. [Details and registration]

Networking Strategies Improve Disaster Readiness
Thursday, May 4, 2023 / 1:00 p.m. CT
Steve Pine is presenting about networking for disaster as part of the Texas Collections Resource Alliance (TX-CERA). Steve is a founding board member and current president of TX-CERA. [Details and registration]

For past webinars on preservation topics, visit: https://preservationweek.org/past-webinars/


County Boundary Histories in Texas Statewide Records Project Publications

By Clinton Drake, Reference Librarian

When Texas became an independent republic in 1836, the 23 municipalities created under Mexican colonial rule were converted to counties and further divided as settlement continued, leading to the current 254 counties in the state of Texas. The newest county is Kenedy, created from Willacy County in 1921. Counties as we recognize them today have most likely not always had the same boundaries. There are a variety of resources to assist researchers in determining how a county was formed and where to look for records if boundaries have changed over time.

One often-overlooked resource for researching county boundaries are the maps created in the 1930s and 1940s by the Texas Statewide Records Project. As part of the Work Projects Administration (WPA), the federal relief program to provide jobs during the Great Depression, the Texas Statewide Records Project was a community service program that employed historians, lawyers, teachers, and research and clerical workers to prepare inventories of unpublished government records.

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TSLAC Research Fellows Announced

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 TSLAC Research Fellowship in Texas History: Cecilia N. Sanchez Hill, Angus McLeod, and Halee Robinson. The fellowship includes a $2,000 stipend and is awarded for the best research proposal utilizing the collections of the State Archives in Austin.

Hill is a PhD candidate at Texas Christian University and has conducted research at the State Archives for her dissertation project. The fellowship allows her to continue her inquiry into the history of educating Mexican American students in 20th century Texas, including new questions about the development of and approaches to teaching Mexican American students along with issues of their identity and social, economic and political mobility.

McLeod is a doctoral student working toward a joint degree in education and history at the University of Pennsylvania. He will continue his research at the State Archives to complete his dissertation in 2024. His project examines the origin and development of the school finance system in Texas between 1821-2016 and fills a gap in the historiography of education. 

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Declaration of Independence Broadside

After delegates gathered at Washington-on-the-Brazos in March of 1836 to form the new government of the Republic of Texas, they sent a handwritten copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence to the town of San Felipe de Austin for printers there to produce a broadside version for wider distribution. The printers were Baker & Bordens, a small company that handled other orders from the Texas government and published the newspaper, the Telegraph and Texas Register. Baker & Bordens took the order to publish 1,000 broadsides of the Declaration of Independence from Mexico. They also printed the text in the March 12, 1836, edition of their newspaper, where they apologized for neglecting to add the names of two signers of the document, including the author of the declaration, George Childress.

July 6, 1836, printing record, Baker & Bordens. Texas Secretary of State public printing records, 1835-1836.
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THRAB Presents Free Finding Aid Workshops

Introduction to TARO: Encoding and Submitting Finding Aids

The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) presents free training opportunities on encoding finding aids to enhance the collection access efforts of historical and genealogical societies, archives, museums, libraries, colleges, local governments, and other institutions who hold Texas’ archival collections. Through these workshops, archivists will learn the hands-on basic skills needed to participate in the Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO) finding aid platform, www.txarchives.org. Trainers will offer day-long workshops in Lubbock (3/20), Edinburg (4/17), and El Paso (5/25). Registration is free but limited to 15 participants at each site.

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Apply for Free Registration to AASLH Basics of Archives Online Course

Through funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) has partnered with the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) to offer free registration to their popular online course, Basics of Archives from March 27 – April 28, 2023. Meant for those with little to no archival experience, this self-paced course takes place over five weeks, with lessons covering the essential components of archives work from acquisition to outreach. The time commitment is about 15-20 hours to be completed within the five-week period.

Registration is limited to 30 attendees residing in Texas and working for a repository or organization charged with preservation responsibilities but lacking in formal training. Preference will be given to employees or volunteers of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, or smaller institutions that serve rural areas and receive little or no funding for professional development. THRAB may limit registration to one person per institution to allocate space equitably.

Apply by March 10, 2023


The National Historical Records and Publications Commission (NHPRC) funds THRAB programming.

THRAB Offering Free Preservation Assessments for Rio Grande Valley Region

The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) has announced that it is accepting applications from libraries and archives in the Rio Grande Valley for free professional preservation assessments. As part of its ongoing efforts to provide education and support to archival repositories in the state, THRAB, with support from the National Historical Publication and Records Commission (NHPRC) will provide funding for three professional preservation assessments in the Rio Grande Valley region during the spring of 2023.

Archives, libraries, museums and other cultural heritage repositories preserving and providing access to historically significant archival collections are encouraged to apply. Special consideration will be given to those located in the counties of Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy and Cameron and Hispanic-serving institutions.

Selected South Texas repositories will receive a professional preservation assessment free of charge. THRAB has contracted with Rebecca Elder Cultural Heritage Preservation of Austin to conduct the on-site reviews of facilities, environments and collection needs and produce a brief assessment report for each repository with short and long-term recommendations. Areas of review include building and environmental conditions; general collection needs; storage and shelving; exhibits (if any); and emergency planning and security. The report will prioritize the recommendations and provide essential documentation to support any future funding requests, including grant applications, to accomplish the projects.

THRAB will review the final assessment reports and work with the institutions to identify appropriate grants or other means to address the recommendations. THRAB will monitor progress of the institutions and provide advocacy support. THRAB intends this initiative to be a pilot project to engage and support underfunded repositories.

Applications can be made online by visiting www.THRAB.org or clicking on the button below. The deadline is March 1. Successful applicants will be notified by April 1 and will make arrangements with Rebecca Elder Cultural Heritage Preservation for assessments to be completed by June 1. 

The nine-member Texas Historical Records Advisory Board was established in 1976 by Governor Dolph Briscoe. It enables the state to receive monies from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission in support of archival and records management programs and serves as a catalyst for improving archival and records storage conditions within the state.


The National Historical Publications & Records Commission funds THRAB programming.